Jesse and I have competing collections. These are collections of items which we do not share. She collects purses, handbags, hats, shoes, and jewelry. She says they’re a necessary component of a woman’s wardrobe, but we both know it’s just a collection.
On the other hand, my collection is more of the digital variety and takes up much less closet space. Among the many Mac, Windows, and Linux utilities which grace the desktops and notebooks cluttered throughout the Mincey Plantation, is a collection of plain text editors. These are not word processors like Word or Pages, but editors used by programmers or developers.
Old habits are hard to break and I still use BBEdit for many editing and coding tasks, but I have others. Too many, perhaps. TextMate. TextWrangler. Textastic. Smultron. Plain Text. Far too many useless Markdown editors, at least two Mac versions of Vim and Emacs, not to mention a bunch of ancient editor options in Cathode. Or, just check out some of the Mincey Editor Collection.
If you’re new to coding and have a tight budget, then plenty of free text editors are available for Mac users, including the popular CotEditor for Mac. I think of it as TextWrangler Lite (which itself is something of a BBEdit Lite).
CotEditor doesn’t come with the bells and whistles found in BBEdit (no grep, for example), but it is thoughtfully laid out and competent beyond the basics.
It comes with syntax coloring for 26 major languages ranging from HTML to PHP, Python to Ruby, even the deservedly maligned Markdown. Find and Replace options use the fast OgreKit framework, and RegEx is built in.
What I really appreciate is the split window view so you can see different sections of the same document at the same time. CotEditor is also scriptable, which means you can make macros for Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP, UNIX shell or AppleScript.
Even keybindings are customizable.
If you’re already using BBEdit or even TextWrangler or TextMate, you won’t be wowed by anything but the speed and ease of use in CotEditor. But if you’re new to coding, or a part-time developer who needs a clean and simple editor, and just plain don’t have any money, CotEditor is a very good choice.
Especially if you prefer to use a non-English language.
CotEditor has a character inspector, it’s fully scriptable to create macros, features an outline menu and auto backup. There’s more to like than not like. It even gets updated regularly as an open source project, and it’s easily downloadable on the Mac App Store.